As I sit down to write this, I realize that I am just beginning my fifth month of unemployment. It’s hard to believe that I’ve spent almost one half of a year not working given that I’ve pretty much had a steady job of some sort since I was 16. But alas, this is a reality that I’ve had to get used to, along with 328,000 (or 8.8%) Washington residents and some 15 million (MILLION?!?!) other Americans. Granted, not all of those unemployed were laid off like I was, but still, that is a huge number.
Some background: Almost a year ago, I began my career in the advertising industry and fell in love with it. However, if someone had asked me 6 months ago if I wanted a vacation or even an extra day tacked onto my weekend, I probably would have said, “Yes, please.” Not because I disliked my job or was overworked, but just to have that one extra morning to sleep in and watch Ellen at 11 and Oprah at 4, and really, who doesn’t enjoy vacations – big or small? I loved my job, was successful at it and was beginning to make a name for myself, not only around the office but also, with our clients.
I knew the economy was tanking, but figured if I kept outperforming myself and staying on top of my sh*t I would make it through what was to be the third round of layoffs since I had started. Deep down I knew that the determining factor for the looming layoffs was purely a numbers game and that really, my performance, unless horrible, wasn’t going to affect my chances of keeping my job or a steady paycheck. The day came, they told me the news and reality set in. I was jobless in what was (and still is depending on who you talk to) the middle of the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. Financially, I was ok for at least two months without tapping unemployment, but to be honest, I figured I would have found a job by the end of the two months. WRONG. Two months came and went, and after about two weeks, so did the fun of being “funemployed.’
About a week before I was laid off, I was watching an episode of Oprah about how the economy was affecting families across America. I remember one couple specifically. It was a husband and wife and they were in the midst of emptying out their house due to foreclosure, the husband had lost his job and the wife’s salary was not enough to keep them afloat. The husband had been unemployed for sometime and the stress of that filtered into their relationship and ultimately caused it’s demise. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, is unemployment really that bad that it can end a relationship?” Can one become so depressed/be so down in the dumps that they lose all motivation to find another job that all they want to do is watch TV or play video games? Unemployment really couldn’t be that bad… or could it?
After a month of being out of work and sending out resume upon resume upon resume, I started to think that maybe it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park to get a job – or at least the job I wanted. After two months, I noticed that being without a 9 to 5 and not really getting a lot of leads was starting to make me feel like a failure. I was starting to second-guess my employability and myself as a person, I noticed that my (now-defunct) relationship was buckling in part because of my unhappiness with the job situation. Add to that the fact that I was missing out on interaction with other people for 8 hours a day. Things were starting to go downhill. There were (and sometimes still are) days when I couldn’t get off the couch and just wanted to be by myself (ironically) and there were (are) days when I didn’t even want to send out resumes because I knew that there would only be a small chance, if any, that I’d hear back from someone. Most people would say to me, “You have a summer vacation! That’s awesome, go out and do something fun, go on a trip, learn a new hobby.” I completely agreed with them, however, it’s hard to do some of those things when the bills don’t stop for unemployment and the weekly government-issued paycheck disappears faster than a size 31 pair of jeans at the Nordstrom anniversary sale.
That said, and while I still have some down days, this time off has kind of been a blessing in disguise. All things considered, this has been one of the best summers of my life. I’ve lost my job, been through a breakup, been in a car accident and had some stuff stolen. On the flip side, because I’ve been missing that human interaction that most get during the week, I’ve come to have a new appreciation for my friends and family. I live for the weekends and the opportunity to meet new people. I realize that while I can’t afford a new pair of Diesel’s, I still am able to eat at least 3 meals a day (or more), go on weekend road trips (gas willing) and come home to a warm bed to rest my head. Some people that have lost their jobs are sleeping in their cars. A lot of people jumped onto the “FML” bandwagon and use it freely; in my 5 months of “shit hitting the fan”, I’ve not said or thought to myself, “FML,” I have way to much to be thankful for even in this tough time.
I still freak out a little bit and think that I’m missing out on those prime career-building years in my life, but I figure I’m young and “this too shall pass.” For whatever reason, I’ve been able to hold on to some shred of hope that something good will come of this. Maybe the Man upstairs is telling me to do something out of my comfort zone. Maybe this is a time for me to move away or to go for that dream job I never would have considered before. The next time you are about to say “FML” or “Get me out of here, I’m a celebrity” or something to that affect, take a minute to look around you and consider all that you have. And then be thankful, because you never know what tomorrow holds.
Submitted By: Alex N. – Seattle, Wa
Wanna write? Have an opinion?